People are eager to label foods as either unhealthy or healthy, but the truth of the matter is that even those foods that have been deemed “junk” food have some real health qualities to them. While it might be hard to explain how marshmallows are good for you, other foods such as chocolate, coffee, and even alcohol have some known health benefits to them. There are a few foods that you’ve probably always labeled as unhealthy options that will actually enhance your immune system and even help fight off certain illnesses when consumed properly.
#1. Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes have been called out as an unhealthy food for years now, but it’s hard to resist that creamy smooth dish that pairs so nicely with the gravy from dinnertime meats. While plain mashed potatoes are quite bad for your health, garlicky mashed potatoes can be a real asset for your immune system and help you fight off common illnesses.
Preparing it Properly
In order to get the full benefits of garlic in your mashed potatoes, it’s a good idea to make them using fresh garlic that’s been mashed up. Add several cloves or even a full bulb of garlic to your side dish and you’ll ramp up the flavor while also improving the immune-boosting quality of the food. It’s simple to add in and cook right along with the rest of the dish.
Recent lab tests show that garlic is capable of working against bacteria to enhance the immune system. There’s evidence that it can help prevent common colds and it may even work to fight off some types of cancer as well. A 2006 study of European populations found an association between the amount of garlic consumed and a lower risk for some common types of cancers.
#2. German Style Sausage
Sausage is greasy, it’s full of fat, and yet when fixed properly it can really bolster your immune system and help improve your digestion. You should bear in mind, though, that nitrates, a compound that can lead to cancer, is often used to preserve processed meat. The key in this equation is to put sauerkraut on your sausage. Not only does the top add an extra little zing of flavor, but it enhances your immune system dramatically.
Sauerkraut is what is known as a fermented food, much like kefir, kimchi and so many other options sold today. These foods have healthy bacteria that boosts digestion and can actually improve your immune system as well. Add it onto your hot dogs, sausages, hamburgers and any other dishes that you like liberally. While sauerkraut doesn’t immediately make a dish healthy, it does make the dish good for your immune system and digestive system.
When most people hear the word pizza they think of thin greasy slices coated with pepperoni, sausage and other unhealthy additions. Those options aren’t particularly healthy for you, but that’s not the only way to enjoy pizza. Making standard pizza into an immunity booster is a simple process, and something that you can do right at home.
Adjust the Crust
One of the first changes to make to your pizza is to switch to a whole wheat dough. Whole grains will keep you full longer and recent studies show that it can actually help you live longer if you eat it on a regular basis.
Immune Boosting Pizza
Now there are two additional changes that you can make to that greasy pie to make it good for your immune system. The first is to switch it to a garlic pizza, which brings along all the garlicky benefits that we discussed up above. The second is to make it into a veggie pizza with plenty of leafy greens like spinach and kale. Dark leafy greens are proven to help bolster immunity and help convert food to energy so that you’ll feel more wide awake than normal.
#4. Walnut Brownies
Everyone knows that brownies aren’t the healthiest dessert, but they just taste too darned good to avoid eating them. Well, what some people don’t realize is, that the brownies with nuts in them are actually beneficial to the immune system. Whether you like brownies with walnuts, cashews, butternuts or some other form of nut, there are some serious health benefits hidden within that fudgy chocolate.
According to MS Yemisi Olowookere, a dietician with the Garki Hospital, Walnuts contain a bunch of components that help strengthen the immune system. They come packed with calcium, zinc, magnesium, copper and manganese. Together these nutrients enhance immunity. The nuts also come with a range of B vitamins that are good for enhancing energy, and for boosting heart health, so that’s something to think about as well.
Reduce Your Disease Risk
Eating immune-boosting foods such as the ones listed above can help you avoid issues like the common cold, but there is also research showing that doing so can also help with more major issues like cancer and heart disease. Consider adding some of these foods into your diet, along with more well-known immunity boosters such as fresh fruits and vegetables and you’ll likely reduce your risk of these issues in the future.
While foods that enhance your immune system are important for your health, it’s also important to have known treatments and therapies performed when you’re struck by an issue such as cancer or heart disease. Adjusting your diet is helpful, but the treatments will help give you the best chance possible.
The next time that you take a look at one of the junk foods listed above don’t just rule them out as foods that you can’t eat. Consider the health benefits that they have to offer when consumed properly, and consider keeping some of them in your diet, at least in small doses.